Tuesday, September 29, 2009

St. Michael's Day

The great thing about going to the hippie school is that there are all sorts of festivals and events I've never heard of. At this school which is more "traditional" (as in "We're 30 years old - why would we change?") the events, holidays and festivals are very Eurocentric. Our old school had some fun Hindi festivals - including one involving spraying each other with colored water - so the festivals here, like Whitsun in the Spring for comparison, where you wear white, sit quietly and hear a long story, is not so appealing to children or the adults who have to sit through it. But I digress. So, without further ado - here's Michaelmas----


The celebration of Michaelmas commemorates the Archangel Michael and the archetype Michael represents. He is a well known figure in icon painting - usually shown with shield and lance or fiery sword, gazing outward while subduing the dragon underfoot.

Taking up a new task has long been a theme for this season. The task Michael offers us all, when he casts the great dragon into the earth, can become very real in our lives whenever we wish to take a new step on our inner journey, to raise ourselves a little above our nature. Then we discover that into the earth means into us also, for we are immediately caught in in a battle with the weight, the inflexibility and the intractability within our own being.

Michael beckons us to find the spirit to come alive through the dying year. The flashing meteor showers are said to be the sword he wields for us; each falling star is made of iron, the iron we need to strengthen the resolution of heart. The seed-thoughts of summer can be harvested now as deeds - to find their place in the world among people and to generate a life of their own which goes on into the future.

swiped from the school newsletter who swiped it from "All Year Round" by Ann Druitt.

Cuteness: The first grade and their teacher prepare for their part as the gnomes who forge Michael's sword.

The cast begins to enter the stage. Fourth grade royalty arrive...

"psst - Hey B & Z, there's my Dad" or maybe, since they are 4th graders now, it was more like "psst, B & Z, look at Mr. Hess! He's wearing another purple tunic!" *giggle*

Second grade farmers take their places...

And the play begins! "la, la, la... we are the farmers..."

"la, la, la, skip in a circle and find your partners..."

But all is not well for the farmers. They ask the royal family for help. The royal family offers the following advice "we can't help, just sacrifice someone, everyday, to the dragon. That might work". (See - politics were no better back in the day either.)

But now the royal family is in trouble. The princess has drawn the shortest straw and will be the next sacrifice! What to do?

Oh crap! Here comes the dragon! Shrieking, horror, mass panic!

But who is this? It's Michael, come to slay (or at this school "tame") the dragon! (Personally, I think the dragon needs to put up a bigger fight. More drama, more action!)

And Michael leads the dragon off. All is well in the kingdom again.

The End.

Well not really. There are several pieces missing. There were other grades who were the meteors and other parts of the cast plus the cute little gnomes didn't get into the photos either. Next year I'll take pictures and Dave can wrangle the wiggly boy-child.

After the play the older grades created an obstacle course for the younger grades. They had to go through a "howling tunnel" made by the older kids, ride a "galloping steed" (8th grader) and climb up and down different pieces of playground equipment. There was, of course, treasure of some variety at the end. Neither girl has reported to me what is was, which makes me think it either wasn't that cool or edible. In any case, a fun time was had by all and the rain held itself to a sprinkle during the play and games. Happy Michaelmas!

Friday, September 25, 2009

My 10%

First go to itunes.

Type in Joan Jett.

Choose "Bad Reputation".

No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Not me, me, me, me, me, me, me.
Hell, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Not me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Download it. It's only $.99. I'll pay you back.

Listen to it and read this post.

Think about your 10%

When I was in a parent-tot program a few years ago, one of the women mentioned in conversation that there are always going to be about 10% of the people that you know who just don't like you. Nothing really can be done about it. They just aren't gonna like you for once reason or another. Or no particular reason at all. I was completely floored to realize that she was absolutely right. It is so liberating to me to be freed from trying to get along with everyone and "be nice". Sometimes you just can't.

I had an arduous day. There were meetings and discussion. There were attempts at compromise. Dave left work to help. It was not pretty. I had to knock some heads, as my Granddaddy would say. I added a few people to my 10%. But I did what was right and what needed to be done. My kids' days will be easier because of it. So "I don't give a damn, 'bout my bad reputation". You shouldn't either. Go forth and kick ass.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The time has come!

This is why my kids go to the Waldorf school. Strings class 3 times a week. Art, music, movement are all as important as math and reading. Julia was a proud peacock to have gotten old enough to finally be a 4th grader and play flute and a string instrument. Bff is playing violin too so Julia took it upon herself to call up arrange practice sessions on Monday and Friday after school with her. I'm excited for her to learn so I can put her on the street corner with her case open, playing to raise tuition money. (j/k)

The "Secret Club" - sshhhh!

Julia came home yesterday with two envelopes. "Please open at home" and "Please keep secret".

One was from her bff. It reads:

Dear: Julia
we would like you
to join are club. it is a
webkinsclub. We Will meat
at the garden at reces.
only on Monday and Friday.

From: (bff) @ Julia
To: Julia

The other envelope was from two 5th graders Julia knows. It is two pieces of paper. The first reads, in beautiful cursive:

we would like you to join our bike group.
we will hopefuly have a group of people to ride
to the park with. we will need a permission
slip siged by your perents. please respond

The other paper reads:



do you have a denom or lether jacket if you dont please get one.

you maust were a darck colored shirt, and jeens!!!!

you maust have a sick bike!!

listen to your capten!!!!!!!!

stay rite bhind your capten in less they say so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

please were good shoes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Julia is thoroughly excited to join both clubs. I, on the other hand, am getting a good chuckle over the whole thing. Secret bike riding clubs? "Sick" bikes? The spelling and enthusiasm of 4th and 5th graders are so wonderfully sweet and absolutely hysterical.

The secret club idea has permeated down the hall to the 2nd grade as well. Last year as first graders the idea of "clubs" was certainly out there but it seemed to be more about who was playing with whom on any given day. Things have definitely evolved since then. I had to stay after school last week and talk to Maisie's teacher about an "incident" that had happened that day.

Apparently Maisie and at least 2 other friends decided to arrange a secret club meeting in the bathroom during Spanish class. The first friend asked to be excused and squirrelled herself away in a stall. A few minutes passed. Next Maisie need to visit the facilities. They were gone for a while before a 3rd child started to insist that SHE had to go to the bathroom as well. Maisie and said friend were not back. Maisie's teacher, not having been born yesterday, went to the bathroom to see what was going on. Maisie and friend were together in a stall giggling. "What are you girls doing in here together?" asked the teacher. "Umm, we were, umm... just looking at the toilets!", explained Maisie. Teacher, of course, does not buy this explanation and Maisie's friend confesses to secret plans. Foiled, the girls returned to Spanish class. They will of course, make more secret plans another day. And I will, almost certainly, have to stay after school again to hear what trouble Maisie has gotten herself into.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Art, art everywhere!

The day goes along well enough until "Mom, I made this for you". More art. A gorgeous (or not) picture, sculpture or thing which now is mine and needs a place. I have 3 storage bins under the bed crammed full of paintings, drawings and workbooks from the past 7 years of schooling. It overflows the kitchen counters, my desk, Dave's briefcase and every flat surface. My walls look like a gallery. I've stopped buying tape in self defense. I thought a bulletin board downstairs would help contain Julia's creations but she just filled it with her friends' phone numbers, written in large print and elaborately cut out. I've tried smuggling art out the door in between old newspapers and junk mail. They always find out. Can't you hear the horror in their voices? "Mom, why is my picture in the garbage?".

So without further ado, here's a smattering of our decor.

This Littlest Pet Shop picture was a 2 day Spring Break project with colored pencils and stickers left in eggs by the Easter Bunny.

This one's on my bedroom wall. "To Mom" and as an afterthought in red:"and Dad". Animals are usually Julia's favorite subject.

More Julia art:

Tate and Dave make Lego sculptures. Thankfully no one expects these these to stick around long.

Yesterday we had to get out left over clay from Maisie's birthday after Julia came home in a snit. Her last two clay sculptures had cracked at school. A relief map of the Willamette Valley and some type of, you guessed it, animal. Tate and Maisie were, of course, glad to sculpt with her. Unfortunately Julia got even further bent out of shape at her clay's reluctance for perfection and stomped downstairs to work on her spelling homework. No matter, Tate and Maisie had a lovely messy time and created more pieces:
This is a young artist at work on one titled "Dying Holes of Dinosaurs".

Maisie commandeered Julia's non-cooperative clay and made a giraffe. No idea why. Perhaps a wedding present for her cousin Alison?

Maisie is no stranger to sculpture. Her pieces are all over our house. Raiding the recycle bin is a favorite pastime for her. She tears and cuts, tapes, glues and rubber bands. This is what my dresser looks like:

A hippo from Alison. She might have been 13 or so when she bought it. It was right after my cat, Fuzzy - aka Big Fat Hippo, died. It's from the best junk store ever: The Beach Mart in Holden Beach, NC.
Maisie made the piggy bank for Mother's Day (thank you Dave, for labelling that - I'd not remember otherwise).
The tall thing is what became of a paper towel roll and old party supplies.
The flower pot coaster is an advent garden Tate supposedly made in Preschool last year. I find it hard to believe he did much. He spent most of his time last year finding things worth constructing into rockets and jumping off of things which aren't supposed to be stood on.
The rest of the table holds some little do dads from my Nana, two mice in yellow glass, a green frog and a praying child in porcelain.
Two jewelry boxes holding jewelry I don't remember to wear.
A box with more jewelry in it. Things I don't remember I own. They landed there when I unpacked, and there they stay.
My Mom made the ladybug rock. It was a Camp Fire Girls project I was suppoed to do. I remember not being very interested in anything other than gabbing with my friends.

Here's a close up of Maisie's interesting abstract of our house. There are beds for all of us including Maisie's little sister. Maisie insists that she has one out there in the ether waiting for me to let it come. She also made out cats.

I just noticed this next to my computer in my desk. The envelope is slightly to small to hold the letters and reads "TO*MOM*LOVE*MAISIE". No idea what the inspiration for this piece was. Maisie just does these. My friend, Penelope, says she sees Maisie in 20 years in her studio, sparks flying as she welds her next piece. Maybe. Maybe not. The only thing certain is that I will be always making more room for the flood of artwork.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Penelope's memorial

Penelope's memorial was today. Quaker style, in a circle. People would stand and share a story of a moment or two of when their life and Penny's ran parallel. Her unusual way of seeing people, her passion in advocating what was right. The night Logan was born, college, lambs in slings and spinning wool into yarn on the school playground. We sang and there was food. I didn't eat or speak. I watched and listened and marvelled at someone I'd known such a short time. She came to my life as a sonic boom. Resonating then gone. My friend whom I will miss.

And last, as always, is the Tate

Poor Tate-o. Always last and drug along behind his sisters. Not only is he 4 years younger but as the only boy he is forced to play American Girl dolls, Littlest Pet Shop and be the afterthought when planning sleepovers, and riding back and forth in the car while I drive them hither and yon. Fortunately he's grown enough into his own unique soul that he gets to go to school by himself and make his own friends and adventures this year.

Tate has fists of steel and likes to show off how hard he can punch. He is sunny and easy going and can be quick to temper, but has a moderate amount of self control. He is famous for having punched out another child's tooth, but the tooth in question was already loose and luckily for both of us, the rough housing was consensual. It was a close call that required a lot of discussion about using one's Super Hero strength for good, not "eee-vil". Tate fully believes he is a Super Hero. He does "action moves" (Action is his reward, ya know. Just ask Spiderman) for anyone holding a camera.

Tate is a Mama's Boy, the only one of the kiddos who didn't want to go to preschool: "It's no fun without you, Mom" and the only one who ever left their bed in the middle of the night to crawl into mine. Tate has a great way of mis-pronouncing words in hysterical ways. He has a pet "nakey" and eats "damn crackers" with Nutella and drinks "nalky". His loves to drink any beverage, he'll be a great frat boy one day. Watermelon is his favorite food "'cause it has a drink in it, Mom". Every sentence starts with "Mom" and ends with "Mom". My morning routine starts with "Mom, I peed in my bed, Mom" or "Mom, tan you det me someping to eat, Mom?". Tater loves all things reptilian and amphibian. He likes bats and spiders. "Don't kill it, Dad!!!" is his frequent holler when there are trespassing insects underfoot. Julia unfailingly rescues the offending arthropod or vermin and flings it outside. Tate loves bugs only from afar.

And then there's the Rooster...

Ah, Maisie Beth. How to fit this kiddo into words on paper, I have no idea. Maisie is what my old boss at the Preschool used to refer to as "a piece of work". My friend Carolyn thinks she's really an old chain smoking French lady; raspy voice and scathingly accurate commentary. She's an enigma - old beyond her years but still wants to hold hands while crossing the road. Maisie courts controversy to her like yellow jackets swirl over your late summer barbecue. She gives away her toys, taunts her brother by belittling his favorite Super Heroes and conspires with her classmates to skip Spanish class to attend a secret bathroom rendezvous. She will not be tamed, is insusceptible to peer pressure and never changes her mind. She can hold a grudge and love unconditionally. She's the kid teachers adore. Or the one who causes teachers to rethink the wisdom of their chosen occupation's effects to their sanity.

Maisie is a recovered autistic child. She can't touch, eat or even breathe in gluten. She hasn't had it or dairy in 6 years. She gave up soy last year. Maisie hates being different and loves being different depending on the circumstance and sympathetic ears in range. She adores American Girl dolls, monkeys and camels. To be completely honest, she is Kipling's camel. It's one of her favorite stories. I alternate between wishing Maisie was easier, softer, more pliant less complicated and being fiendishly proud of her. She's on an intense journey in this life, but with her comedic wit, perfect timing and iron will, she'll get on all right.

Meet the Doodle

This is Julia. Also known as "The Doodle" or as her brother pronounces it "Eea". Or if her siblings are being silly or trying to get a dig in, "Eea-Peea". Julia is living in the wrong day and age. She belongs on a farm. Or in a zoo. She's the kid who loves everyone's dog, cat, fish, lizard, hampster and wants one or six of her own. We're working on it. She's gotten herself a cat and a couple bunnies in the past 2 years. She wants a dog next. I'm not ready for that.

Julia loves to get along with everyone and be part of the group. She's what we,in my family, call a "Fun Girl". Always up for an event that requires giggling, hanging out and if she's very lucky, chocolate. She's a girl's girl. Stuffed animals and doll clothes liter the floor of her room. She is young at heart and still likes to run on all fours like an animal. She is the one who really needs to be in the Waldorf Hippie School. She would have been crushed by peer pressure and trying to be cool at public school. We tried it in Kindergarten. She made it three months. I yanked her out and we've been wierd-o Waldorf parents ever since. But that's another story. For now just enjoy the Julia-ness of these pictures.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Meet Conventional Dad

I married a guy named Dave about 10 years ago. Why? Because I knew he'd be a great Dad. Because he is always on my side when I am righteously (or not) angry. Because he's the easy going one who lets me have my way when I really need it and gets out of the way when I'm in a twitch. Because he is not an animal person but never once mentioned he had a hard time with the 3 cats I had when we met. He even took one of them to the emergency vet across town in the middle of the night. Because even now when he comes home and has to face his proud son standing next to an aquarium with a pregnant snake in it he does not scream, argue or even groan inwardly at the fates for aligning his phobic star with our zoo.

Conventional Dad thinks nothing of driving an extra 5 hours after attending his sister-in-law's wedding so his wife and daughters can visit the American Girl doll store. Conventional Dad happily drops them off, clutching dolls and debit cards, cheerfully hollering as he pulls away: "We'll be at the beach - just call us when you're done. Have a good time. No hurry!". Conventional Dad only required an In-And-Out Burger hat as a souvenir. Conventional Dad is a little wigged out by some of the unusual (and even the not-so-unusual) goings on at the kiddos' Hippie School, yet he trusts that even without a sports program, his kids are getting a great education. Conventional Dad fears dirty feet, foods near their expiration date and public bathrooms. Life Amongst the Hippies is not easy for him, but he does all right.

Who this heck is this girl?

Who am I? Why am I writing a blog? Uh, well I guess the answer is I'm a funny short person too old to be hip and too young to be matronly. I like to write. I think better in print than I do in conversation. I've got some kiddos who do things and a husband who doesn't. Or vice versa. You never can tell what all's gonna happen in a given day. Humor keeps me sane or at least out of Happy Dale Sanitarium.

I'm a housewife. I wash things, fix things and cook things. It's not all bad, but not all that fun either. I've got a bunch of wacky girl friends who are more amazing than I could ever hope to be. They are healers, bronze casters, singers, actors, dancers, Mormons, Hippies, meth addicted Republicans, and everything in between. They buy me coffee when I'm broke, take me out for $10 cake orgies when I've been publicly called out by a pissed off, gun buying snatch potato and come help paint my patio and install light fixtures. I try to return the favors when I can and even when I can't. You got nothin' if you ain't got friends.

What else is important enough to write? I volunteer for a bunch of different groups. The autism ones who kick ass - TACA, ARI and Gen Rescue. I had a few seconds of fame when I wrote up the true story of my middle daughter for Jenny McCarthy's book. Being a chapter of a book on the NYT bestseller list was a odd but exciting. I'm kind of a dork about autism and vaccines. I get a little pissed off when people poison my kids. There will be a vent on that coming later, don't worry.

I also volunteer at the Hippie School where the kiddos all go. But only where I can actually get stuff done without a load of bureaucracy or bull crap. I am sadly lacking in patience when it comes to being diplomatic and spouting the party line. I would not be a good spokesperson for any group. But if you want someone to organize, re-arrange, problem solve or write a scathingly direct email - I'm your girl.